Keto Diet and Oral Health
The keto diet — an extremely low-carb, high-fat eating plan — has quickly become one of the most popular weight loss fads around. The effect it produces — ketosis — burns fat in your body to produce energy, instead of glucose.
And while many people have found a lot of weight loss success in the keto diet, they’ve also discovered a few unwanted side effects, among them: ketosis breath.
Why does the keto diet cause bad breath?
When your body begins to burn fat instead of glucose, it converts your fat cells into three kinds of ketones, or fat byproducts. One of them — acetone — cannot be used to store energy. When that happens, your body releases the acetone through your urine and your lungs.
The acetone is what gives your breath the “ketosis” smell, kind of a sweet, fruity scent.
Is the keto diet bad for your oral health?
Although ketosis breath is often an unwanted side effect of the keto diet, dentists counter that overall, the keto diet can be better for your oral health. Why?
- When you’re not eating carbs, you’re not eating candy bars, cookies and other processed sugars, the foods dentists say are the worst for your teeth and gums.
- Reducing your sugar intake has long been touted as one way to fight cavities.
- Low-carb diets are also believed to help with inflammation, which contributes to gingivitis.
How to combat ketosis breath
If you don’t like the keto breath, but you like the results you’re seeing with the keto diet, here are a few ways to combat the smell:
- Eat more leafy green vegetables and whole grains, but continue to shy away from refined carbs (think white bread, white potatoes, etc.)
- Drink plenty of extra water.
- Chew sugar-free gum. It helps to stimulate your saliva and makes your breath smell better.
- Keep mouthwash handy.
- Supplement your water or tea with fresh herbs, like clove cinnamon, mint or fennel. All of them are known to be natural breath fresheners.